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Old 09-24-2013, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just wanted to come back to MDC and share our journey. I feel we made some great choices for my gifted daughter and things are working out very well for her. There were a lot of choices to make along the way with schooling and parenting. 

 

So DD was born in December 2000. She had very early milestones with everything. Every mom wants to think their child is special but she really was early. She was rolling over early, cooing early, and was crawling very well by 5 months old. By 12 months old she had a vocabulary of over 100 words and had put some words together. By 2 years old she was drawing objects that I could recognize (a round cat body with whiskers and legs and tail). She learned her letters and the sounds they made, and tried to write the letters. By her 3rd birthday she was reading Bob Books. She was building things that were complicated, using the computer like a pro, and had memorized entire movies (yes the whole things! Land Before Time was one favorite. She would play with her toys and have them do the entire movie for hours).

 

She also was socially behind quite a bit, had severe tantrums, walked on her toes, liked to spin round and round on things, shouted and squealed a lot, and has always been a terrible sleeper. We took her to a child psychologist about those concerns and was told she was not autistic because her verbal abilities were very advanced, but she had some of the same behaviors.

 

I bought a homeschooling package for her and by the time she was 5 she had completed the 2nd grade level. She also showed herself to be a gifted artist. I decided to go to nursing school and could not homeschool her. I was in class all day myself. So I shopped around. The public school said they did not test for giftedness or move kids ahead until 2nd or 3rd grade and she would have to just be a part of the normal Kindergarten program. I found a very small charter school where the teacher was amazing. She was with her same age peers (which I wanted) but was challenged with math and reading to her level. The teacher said she had never seen a child pick up on things so easily and in such an advanced way and felt my dd was truly gifted. At the same time she really needed to work on social skills.

 

At this point most of my mommy friends were sick of hearing about dd. And even though I learned to not talk about it, they saw her and many of them stopped being our friends. I felt I didn't have too many people to talk to about dd's needs and the options available to her.

 

The charter school worked out great until 2nd grade. They got a new principal who decided all children had to stay with grade level. My dd had been allowed to move to the classes 2 years ahead of her for math and reading, but spent the rest of the day with her same age peers. Her social skills were blooming. She was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease and malnutrition and getting on the right diet really helped her sensory and sleep issues. Anyway, after the principal would not budge on this, I moved her to another charter school that agreed to do this for dd.

 

When she was in 5th grade I got a job working nights at a hospital. I could no longer pick her up after school-- it was torture to wake up mid sleep-cycle to drive through a long pick up line. DD also had been playing piano well for a couple of years and I wanted her to be part of a school music program, which the charter school did not have. I looked again at the local public school. Dd's needs had changed by then-- she was older, more mature, and they had a gifted program she might be able to test into.

 

For 6th grade I put her into the public school. I did not have her tested because I figured she had enough to focus on with social issues being now in beginning puberty, a new school, and a bigger school. She rode the bus which was great for my sleep schedule, joined the band, made friends. And easily got all A's of course. At the end of 6th grade her teacher wanted her to sit for gifted testing. I agreed. Dd scored a composite score of 99th percentile which is the highest score a student can get. It means she scored 99th in all areas. We were contacted by the gifted program for the Jr. High and I did some research to see if it would be a good fit for her. She also had the option of being at a college prep school that was open to qualified children in the district (but that would mean no bus service once again, and no band program). A third option which the district only did for some kids was to put her ahead 2 grade levels. Not a chance. Dd is not that sophisticated yet to be walking with high school kids.

 

Basically the way that program works (even in the earlier grades) is those children are in a self-contained classroom all day. I was not sure I liked this idea, as dd had really made lots of friends and learned to do well in  a "normal" social group with children of all abilities including some special needs kids. Dd's science project made it into a district wide invitational science fair at a high school. We went to see her display but also to check out kids who were in the gifted program, who I knew would be there. I talked to a few articulate high school students who had been through the gifted program. Across the board they said they did not like it much, it gave them way too much homework (hours of it). They felt the workload was just too great, they did not have time for sports or a part-time job. Their problem was not with the material taught but the workload. After speaking with some parents I found this seemed to be a major problem.

 

Based on that, I decided to enroll dd in the Honors program instead. The Honors program opens up to Jr. High kids and is above grade level but not with the insane amount of homework. It would mean she would not be doing 9th grade algebra which she was ready for, but instead would do advanced jr. high algebra. Same with language arts and science. She enrolled in band and art class as her electives.

 

So far it's a great fit!! She gets some homework but not an insane amount. She is being lightly challenged but not stressed out. She loves band. She has friends in the honors program that she had last year in school. I have heard of a couple families who chose the gifted program have now pulled their kids out because of the workload.

 

If you are still with me-- here's what I have learned. And I recognize that every situation is different.

 

1) It is a gift to be able to sail through school. Why ruin it by finding something that challenges them too much? If they are bored, then bump them up a level. But don't think it's a requirement that all children be challenged in school work. I was not gifted in school and was constantly stressed about falling behind (I now know I have a learning disability and have learned to compensate but learning has never come easy for me in the model of most schools)

 

2) Academics are not everything. It is so important to learn social skills, to survive in a world of many personalities and situations. Dd has struggled and finally overcome this. This was the challenge for her and there was no grade attached. My choice to find a comfortable place for her but not one that was too challenging allowed her to spend energy refining her social skills.

 

3) Finding a group for her to belong to that does not involve her skills in academics. She loves band. She's about average in her section. She gets nervous before band tests and I hear her pushing herself to meet the expectations of her teacher for the test. She also looks forward to being a part of a group rather than the shining star like she often was in the classroom. She sees the value of teamwork. I think team sports is great for gifted kids, especially if they are just average in that area. 

-- My second child is average in school, but has great social skills. My gifted dd can associate with how it is to struggle to master something because of her band experience-- and she helps and encourages her sister with her school work.

 

4) Knowing that childhood only happens once. Why rush things? If the child wants to take college level classes and has a passion for it, great. If they don't, then just because they might do well in the college classes doesn't mean they should be enrolled in them. If they graduate early they lose those years of childhood. There is something to be said for holding them back until they are mature enough to handle being part of the adult scene.

-- In high school after I had mastered my learning problems and did well in school, I had the option of graduating early. Instead I took a bunch of fun electives and signed up to be a teacher's aide, and finished out my final year of track and field. I'm glad I did that-- I grew up a lot in that last semester and summer before college.

 

Thanks for listening. Would love to get your stories and feedback. 


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:11 AM
 
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I have a kiddo who is homeschooled.  We did a semester of kindy because I needed 'daycare'.  I pulled him out and never looked back. Fast forward to DS13 now. He is accumulating highschool credits, he is happy and well adjusted to online learning.  We have a mix of unschooling and an online environment that lets us adjust the schedule to our needs.  Right now we are in a 'gap year'.  because DS is so far ahead of his peers, would be in 7th grade if in public school we decided together to simply take some time to explore his passions. Art, reading, swim team ect.  My fear was and still is he could honestly finish high school in the next 2 years and then what would we do?  Could I send a 9th grader to university??  Could I keep him challenged at home?  DS has some pretty intense ideas on which universities he would like to attend.  

 

Taking a gap year seems to be working for now.  He is happy learning about art and developing his art skills.  He loves swim team.  Swim team is more of a social outlet right now.  He likes swim meets but oddly, practice is more his thing??  I had planned on using ' Movies in Literature' as a base for English2 this year but DS is doing free reading instead.  Taking a step back is the right choice for this year.  

 

I've looked at a self contained gifted school, regular public school and advanced public school where jr high starts high school (so 5 or 6 years of school is condensed into 4) and none of those are a good fit for DS for numerous reasons.  At some point we will resume homeschool, probably with a different online school which will give a diploma.  


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Old 09-25-2013, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Zebral5, it sounds like "gap year" is a great idea! No pressure, fun, and learning and growing!

 

There is this little 10 year old walking around dd's Jr. High School. Her parents have put her up 2 grade levels and I saw her at orientation. She's just so, so much younger and smaller than the others. I remember going to school with one of these kids in high school. Had not started puberty yet and everyone else was talking about dating, movies, fashion, and all that stuff. She was so lost. :-( But we invited her to sit with us at lunch because she was sweet. I guess I had that girl in mind when I considered bumping skipping grades for about 2 seconds.


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:00 PM
 
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Then again I have a 10-year-old who is nominally considered a 7th grader after a double-grade skip but is taking 8th and 9th grade science and math classes at the local high school (high school here also includes 7th and 8th grades), and is thriving. She's outgoing, helpful and confident. It's her first real school experience and admittedly she's only there part-time -- she's still unschooled with the exception of these two subject areas. Her siblings are teens, so she is very teen-savvy and comfortable with that age group. She's not entered puberty either, but she's cool with all that teen stuff, and finds plenty of other stuff to talk to her classmates about. They get her: the 9th graders are nice kids, the classes are multi-grade anyway, and she's quickly inserted herself into the classroom dynamic without feeling at all out of place. She tutors some of the 7th graders -- at their request -- and everyone seems totally cool with it. 

 

So never say never. 

 

Miranda


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Old 09-25-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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And since you ask for other stories ....

 

My eldest dd was completely unschooled until age 14. Fell in love with piano, then violin, excelled at both, outgrew musical training options in our area (we're quite rural and fairly remote). She started school part-time in 9th grade, placed in 10th grade courses, in order to try to fill in some gaps in her i-have-no-natural-love-of subject areas (math, science). Surprised herself by quite enjoying them, but was also increasingly passionate about her violin and other out-of-school experiences. She did a lot of travelling -- like, three days every two weeks to a violin teacher 8 hours away, plus some third-world backpacking -- while gradually accumulating a high school transcript over the next 3 years. Ended up living in Montreal to study with her violin-teacher-of-choice at 17, completely on her own. Entered McGill University in violin performance on full scholarship the following year and is now in her 2nd year and thriving.

 

Ds was completely unschooled until age 14 as well. Entered school part-time at 14, then full-time the next year. He's now a senior and has been under-challenged in areas like English and Math for the past year, but the school is led by a couple of amazingly passionate and interesting teacher-mentors and uses a very self-directed, open-ended model, so he's finding places to challenge himself -- principally in the realm of deep discussions about philosophy, ethics, social justice, political theory, environmentalism and such. He's playing occasional gigs in a semi-professional orchestra, working part-time as a museum assistant, teaching himself java and javascript, taking community extension type courses in digital music production, singing in a fabulous auditioned college-age choir that he was accepted into despite his age. So he's finding intellectual and other challenge.

 

Dd14 is "in 10th grade" according to her school registration but all her courses are 11th or 12th, so she's both young for grade and has had a de facto grade-skip. Her plan is to possibly do an exchange year or travel for a semester in 12th, and take some university courses via dual enrolment, which will be easy enough to broker through the school, so she doesn't really care that the grade skip isn't official and they won't graduate her until 2016. She started school after unschooling until age 12 and has thrived on the structure there. So far. She'll need to find appropriate challenge elsewhere within a year or so.

 

Our only school option is a rural K-12 which is loosely divided into an elementary school format for the K-6 years and a high school format for 7th-12th. We've found that only in the secondary end is the independence in learning possible that allows adequate differentiation given the small number of teachers. For instance, if we put dd10 in the 6th grade, she'd be in a classroom with 4th graders who are still struggling to learn multiplication, while she is today exploring irrational vs. rational exponents and roots, trying on her own to figure out what is possible and what's not, and how you can prove it.

 

Miranda


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Old 09-26-2013, 03:41 AM
 
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I love gifted success stories! And so great to see you here, USAmma.

Any child who is a misfit to their surroundings requires a lot of thought and introspection to help the child find the right path. The mantra in our house is "all solutions are temporary."

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Zebral5, it sounds like "gap year" is a great idea! No pressure, fun, and learning and growing!

There is this little 10 year old walking around dd's Jr. High School. Her parents have put her up 2 grade levels and I saw her at orientation. She's just so, so much younger and smaller than the others. I remember going to school with one of these kids in high school. Had not started puberty yet and everyone else was talking about dating, movies, fashion, and all that stuff. She was so lost. :-( But we invited her to sit with us at lunch because she was sweet. I guess I had that girl in mind when I considered bumping skipping grades for about 2 seconds.

As a caution: don't judge this situation. Every gifted child has slighlty different needs. Your family found a way to satisfy your DD's needs, and it sounds like you made the right decisions for your daughter as she's made her way through school.

Parents don't put kids up in grade levels in isolation. A grade skip is generally the result of extended conversations between teachers, administrators, parents, and the students. I our case, skips have been suggested by the building principals. There are best practices in how to decide if a skip is an appropriate solution, in removing the child from his/her peer group as the better of less-than-perfect-solutions. If you see a child in a grade two years beyond age peers, you can rest assured that there is no right place for this child. Academically, statistics would predict this child learns faster and with more depth and instensity than those in her classes. Being two grades out of level is likely the best compromise between physical, emotional, and academic maturity.

My 7 year old DS has 1 grade skip so far. He goes up two more grades for math to receive math instruction with a class for the first time since starting school. We were recently told that he's mastered the 5th grade material he was to be taught this year. We're leaving him in the class because he's content, and no, I don't want to send him to the middle school just yet, but it will have to happen next year. However, if he starts complaining of boredom or acting out in class, we'll have to reopen the discussion with the school to find a solution to the situation.

At the same time, my DD is the 3rd youngest in her 6th grade class of 225 kids. We've refused a skip so far, but the pressure from the school is mounting. For now, she's radically accelerated in math and science, and we're looking at sending her to the high school for as much as half the day as early as next year. The subject accelerations started because she started refusing to go to school when she was in second grade. An evaluation showed that she was more than 2grade levels above level in all areas but writing. Accelerating math, and then science, was an appropriate, yet still not perfect, solution.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:57 AM
 
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Thanks for sharing your story, USAmma. I like reading about others' experiences. 

 

It's unfortunate that the gifted program in your area has such a workload issue. The gifted program option worked well for my dc through to the end of middle school. It was a place where they found a supportive administration and understanding, experienced teachers who provided a stimulating and creative classroom environment and best of all, like-minded peers in the classroom. It wasn't only challenging, it was engaging and inspiring and interesting. 

 

I do agree that it is important to look beyond academics. Both dc opted not to continue in a gifted program in high school. They both chose to attend performing arts programs and thrived there. It has helped that the school offers strong academics and they have found some excellent, academically inspiring teachers at the school. 

 

One educational option that has worked well for DD for the past couple of years has been international travel/studies. For two summers, she has taken part in courses and collected some of her high school credits. We've discovered that this kind of schooling isn't for everyone, at least if they are academically inclined and taking part in academically rigorous programs. She is an experienced traveller, enjoys working with groups, and is a natural leader, so studying in the middle of a pack of kids and working on group projects with near strangers while far from home aren't issues for her. She is also a hard-worker who can work to short deadlines, so the accelerated timetable of a short summer course (eg. working on a bus or in the Departures lounge of the airport because the draft is due at the end of the trip) isn't a problem.  

 

Travel studies are a fantastic way to learn and gain experience, particularly for students who feel stifled in a regular classroom. I think it would be a good option for a lot of gifted students who aren't getting what they need in traditional school. DD has returned from her trips with an expanded knowledge base, global awareness, confidence in her ability to manage, and a wonderful network of mentors and friends. I highly recommend it. 

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Old 09-26-2013, 09:57 AM
 
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:lurkLove this thread!  Thank you all for sharing.  There are some cool kids and wise mamas on this board.   Hearing your stories, especially all the changes of direction and schooling that your kids have gone through really helps.  It's so easy to get caught up in the immediate future when you have a little one.  Often I feel like the kindergarten I choose for DS4 will set his life path in stone for better or worse.  Obviously it will not, and your stories help to ease my anxiety.  Thanks!


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Old 09-27-2013, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I love hearing your stories!

 

Dd is very happy right now. She's focusing a lot on her art and music, and thriving with friends and being happy. :-) We are very lucky that her school feeds into an excellent, well-funded high school with high rankings nationally. What makes me happiest is they offer college level classes to their honors students for double credit (high school/college). I have heard that some kids practically have finished their first two years of college by the time they graduate from high school. But they do it in the high school setting with same-age peers. Hopefully this will work for her, but one thing I have learned is try to remain flexible.


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One educational option that has worked well for DD for the past couple of years has been international travel/studies. For two summers, she has taken part in courses and collected some of her high school credits. 

My dh is from India. While I am done with India trips for awhile (had my fill after four extended times there), I plan to send my daughters there for the entire summer at around age 14 for each of them. I wonder if I can coordinate something while she's there that can count as credit? There are a lot of good schools there and that would be a great experience for her. Even something like studying the local art. My MIL is an artist and probably can direct us in this area. Great idea!


7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:11 PM
 
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One educational option that has worked well for DD for the past couple of years has been international travel/studies. For two summers, she has taken part in courses and collected some of her high school credits. 

My dh is from India. While I am done with India trips for awhile (had my fill after four extended times there), I plan to send my daughters there for the entire summer at around age 14 for each of them. I wonder if I can coordinate something while she's there that can count as credit? There are a lot of good schools there and that would be a great experience for her. Even something like studying the local art. My MIL is an artist and probably can direct us in this area. Great idea!

 

That sounds like a great opportunity. If your school administration is flexible, perhaps it could be organized as an Independent Study. That way, her home school will grade her work (essays, projects, portfolio, whatever she generates) and grant the course credit. You won't have to worry about transferring credits between two different countries and different school systems. 

 

DD's study programs have been through local organizations in or near our city. They hire teachers with our local accreditation and the courses are affiliated with school boards here. It's different with a foreign exchange kind of trip, where the student attends a school in another country. We haven't had to deal with differences in curriculum standards or getting credits transferred between systems (something we've dealt with when we've moved homes between countries). I wouldn't reject an opportunity to attend a foreign school. I think foreign exchanges are terrific opportunities. It has been nice, though, not dealing with any transfer issues for her study abroad programs. 

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